This year marks my 5th year back in Singapore.
Discontentment with the lack of freedom of speech and the thirst to learn beyond our shores were among the reasons why I packed my bags and took a teaching job in Shanghai. It was one of the greatest decisions I have made in my life because it opened my eyes to many new things and global issues and had led me to many adventures. I ended up in Belfast for three months before I finally came home. It wasn’t an easy decision to make but after my grandmother’s sudden demise in 2007 which had greatly depressed me, I thought I’d better come home and spend more time with my family as well as people I have known all my life.
In the past 5 years, I have met so many new people, done new things and made new discoveries about Singapore’s past. It has been quite an interesting journey of ups and downs, compared to the 22 frustrating years of being here before I took a break and lived abroad for 2 years. In many ways, I am glad to be back and being involved in pushing for more human rights in Singapore has contributed largely to that. The thing that really frustrates me is the false notion that one has to support the government before one can claim her/himself a patriot, that exists among many people here. I have also been asked to leave, since I do not like what the government is doing to this country.
Indeed I have no love for the PAP because they did nothing to earn it but I care about how people are being treated. As long as there is no equality between women and men, between the poor and the rich, among racial groups etc, people like me will continue to speak up, for how can a home be called a home if members of the home do not contribute to making it a better one? Singapore is my home, not a hotel and I intend to continue advocating and pushing for better rights.
Singapore is 47 this year, and will be 50 in 3 years’ time. I hope that when we get to that point, we will have a more progressive and caring government/ society that will 1) recognise all single mothers’ entitlement to government subsidies and childcare leave regardless of their marital status; 2) recognise the equal care giving roles of both parents by passing a bill to allow paternity leave; 3) abolish conscription and professionalise the army; 4) recognise the important roles early childhood educators play in society instead of perceiving the role of childcare centres mainly as a way to relief working parents; 5) establish minimum wage that is pegged to the standard of living in Singapore for ALL workers regardless of nationality; 6) acknowledge the need for greater human rights and abolish acts such as the Internal Security Act (along with a COI on Operation Coldstore and Spectrum) and 377A; 7) accept people with disabilities into the mainstream, with equal opportunities to education, work and pay; 8) recognise the need for land preservation and to protect areas of rich heritage and natural biodiversity (e.g, Bukit Brown); 9) abolish the death penalty and caning as a punishment; and last but not least 10) improve prison conditions and make it a place for rehabilitation rather than a place to dehumanize criminals.
That’s all for today. Happy National Day! 😉
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